Residents voice budget priorities

NANAIMO – Citizens had an opportunity to provide input on the next provincial budget last week.

Nanaimoites had an opportunity to provide input on the next provincial budget last week.

The Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services, a non-partisan provincial committee, is travelling across the province, listening to presentations from groups looking to secure government funding.

Leonard Krog, MLA for Nanaimo, was in attendance and has sat on the committee in the past. He said that the most effective presentations are the ones that can demonstrate to the government that it’s not just about dealing with social or public expenditure issues but actually generating employment and income for the government as well. There are good returns when it comes to funding the arts, he said.

“I’ve been convinced for years that any money spent by government on arts and culture gets a very significant financial return, that it is a great economic generator,” Krog said. “The numbers vary but basically, you spend $1 you’re going to get $5 or $6 or $7 back.”

Parksville-Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell was also in attendance and said the committee is hearing similar requests.

“The biggest thing I took away from [the hearing] and speaking to committee members is that they were hearing from a lot of the same groups at the different areas across the province at the different meetings – hospice, and the student union and sports sectors,” she said.

Stilwell said that everybody who attended wanted to offer their ideas and suggestions and make sure that government was aware of their organization.

She said government’s task is to balance everything.

“The idea of public consultation is to take that input from the general public, so it’s not just [government] making decisions without having the information behind,” Stilwell said. “The idea of public consultations is so that we are provided with that information to help us better our decision-making process.”